10 Things You Didn't Know About Ireland

February 26, 2014

 

10. Saint Patrick was neither a Saint nor Irish!

Many people are completely oblivious to why Irish people all over the world celebrate St. Patricks Day. Why do over 2 million people show up to watch the parade in New york City,  why do they go as far as dying the river green in Chicago and why do 100,000′s of people in Ireland hold a week long festival  around this time every year. Well it is all in the name of Saint Patrick…despite that NOT being his real name and him not been born in Ireland. St. Patrick was actually born in Britain and was named Maewyn.  Irish raiders captured him during an attack and took him to Ireland, heolding him captive for over six years. He later changed his name to Patricius, or Patrick, which derives from the Latin term for “father figure,” when he became a Priest.

 

9. Potatoes are NOT from Ireland

So turns out St Patrick is no more Irish than potatoes. Which, by the way, originally grew in Chile as far back as 500 BC and only arrived in Ireland as late as the 16th Century. Madness, we know! On the subject of potatoes, or spuds as we call them back home, people in Uganda have a very special name they call mashed potatoes. In Uganda, if you want some mash with your dinner you must simply order some “Irish”.

 

8. U2 isn’t even Irish!

Well not all of them anyway. In fact not only is half the band NOT Irish but they hail ……ENGLAND!! Both The Edge and Adam Clayton were born in London and Oxfordshire to Welsh and English parents respectively. Only Bono and Larry Mullen are Irish true an true!

 

7. The Shamrock represents the Holy Trinity

St. Patrick is famous for bringing Christianity to Ireland around A.D. 432. Legend says that St Patrick chose the shamrock as a symbol of the Christian church, its three leaves representing the Holy Trinity: God, Son and the Holy Spirit, joined together by a common stalk. By by the time of St. Patrick’s died on March 17, 461 (thus why we celebrate St. Patric’s Day on March 17th)  he had created a number of churches, schools and monasteries around Ireland dedicated to Christianity.

 

6. It is illegal to drink on the streets in Ireland!

Everyone imagines Irish people stumbling around the streets of Dublin, pint in hand singing to our hearts content. The reality is a little sobering. Drinking on the street or anywhere outside of a licensed premise is in fact illegal in Ireland. Pubs, bars and clubs  are all  closed by 2.30am, a time that could well be one of the earliest closing times out of all cities in Europe!

 

5. Everyone wants to be Irish!

This isn’t some light hearted joke, “har har har sure everybody wants to be Irish on St Patrick’s day!” No! This is actually a fact. How is it that while the population of Ireland, which is a tiny Island really, is only about 4 million (and decreasing every day tahnks to mass emigration) yet over 80 MILLION people worldwide claim Irish ancestry and hold Irish passports or dual citizenship!

 

4. There are OVER 1,000 pubs in Dublin

Considering the fact that Dublin has barely 1 million inhabitants, and thus is could practically be called a village compared to the bright lights of Seoul, it’s hard to believe there are over 1,000 pubs in the city. Many say it is actually impossible to cross the city, from North to South, without passing a pub. Not that anyone would wantto do that!

 

3. Saint Valentine’s ashes are in Ireland

We may not have St. Patrick, but we do have Saint Valentine! The remains of St Valentine, the Patron Saint of Love and Lovers, are held in the Whitefriars Street Carmelite Church in Dublin. They were discovered in the early 1800s in Rome and some three decades later were given to a Dublin priest by Pope Gregory XVI. After nearly a century in storage, the relics were rediscovered about 50 years ago and are now housed in a shrine at the church, beneath a statue of the saint holding a crocus flower. I think few people are aware of this one.

 

2. St Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland

According to legend, in addition to bringing Christianity to Ireland, St. Patrick was also credited with driving unwanted slithering reptiles out of Ireland in the 5th century. However, his job may have been quite easy, considering there weren’t any snakes to drive off the island in the first place!

 

1. Ireland’s Official language does not have words for “yes” and “no” 

The official first language of the Republic of Ireland is not English, it’s Irish (otherwise known as called Gaelic). While most people use English as their first language, as much as 40% of Ireland’s citizens consider themselves to be competent in Irish and must learn it in school from the age of 4  until 18.  One of Irish’s many curiosities compared to English is the absence of words that directly translate into “yes” or “no.”  Rather, Irish speakers answer questions requiring a positive or negative by verb repetition. For example, When asked if someone is “Going to the pub?,” the answer might be “I am,” as opposed to “yes.”

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